The Ministry's strategic context and framework

Transport is critical to the success of our economy and society

Transport is a critical component of daily life for all of New Zealand’s businesses and citizens. The transport system is New Zealand’s primary mechanism for international connectivity, linking our businesses to their export markets and supporting New Zealand’s $23 billion-a-year tourism industry. Safe aviation and maritime systems underpin that by providing the confidence necessary for international aviation and maritime lines to operate in New Zealand. The aviation sector is responsible for the movement of almost $5 billion of exports annually, while more than $40 billion of exports are moved by sea.

The transport system is also vital for domestic connectivity. In the roading network, 18 billion tonne-kilometres of freight is moved each year, with a further 4.6 billion tonne-kilometres being moved by rail. Light passenger vehicles travelled an estimated 31 billion kilometres in 2012. The social cost of road injuries has reduced from $3.9 billion in 2008 to $3.3 billion in 2012, while the annual road toll has reduced from 384 in 2009 to 254 in 2013.

The transport system also has environmental impacts, with 19 percent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions arising from domestic transport. There were 133 million public transport trips (bus, train, ferry) last year, with the number of trips rising by 3.3 percent per year on average over the last 10 years. Cars account for 96 percent of all vehicle trips (motorcycle, car or public transport).

In addition to its economic role, transport contributes to and enables wellbeing, social connectivity and the leisure pursuits of New Zealanders. New Zealand has 1,450 passenger vessels and 500,000 pleasure craft, while 100 commercial jet boats and 300 whitewater rafts carry around 450,000 passengers on our inland waterways annually. New Zealand also has 5,000 registered aircraft and more than 10,000 licensed pilots.

The government’s priorities for the next four years

The government’s priorities are to responsibly manage the government’s finances, build a more competitive and productive economy, deliver better public services and rebuild Canterbury. The government’s Business Growth Agenda has a specific focus on six key ingredients that businesses need to grow and drive the economy. These are: export markets, innovation, infrastructure, skilled and safe workplaces, natural resources, and capital.

The work of the Ministry supports these

The Ministry’s work contributes to all of these priorities. The Ministry oversees approximately $3 billion of government investment in transport infrastructure and services each year through Vote Transport.

The Ministry provides advice to the government on the opportunities for the transport system to increase its contribution to a more competitive and productive economy.

The Ministry also supports improved performance across the government transport agencies.

Our focus on outcomes

Over the next four years, the Ministry will focus on the following six intermediate outcomes:

  • better quality transport regulation and frameworks
  • more open and efficient transport markets
  • improved planning and investment in infrastructure and services
  • decreased transport incidents and other harms
  • improved government transport agencies’ performance
  • improved preparedness for, and management of, shocks and major events.

Long-term influences

New Zealand and the transport system face a number of long-term issues. The choices we make over the coming years as we improve the transport system will need to occur against the backdrop of:

  • major demographic changes including:
    • an ageing population
    • population growth to five million by the mid-2020s
    • significant forecast population growth in Auckland and to a lesser extent the rest of the upper North Island, and generally slower growth, stable or declining populations elsewhere
  • changing trends in transport consumption per person in New Zealand
  • projected growth in the level of freight movements
  • an expectation of volatile fuel prices
  • increased social expectations for the level of service from the transport system: reduced congestion, a safer system, greater resilience and less environmental impact
  • decreased cost of information technology that offers new opportunities to lift the performance of the transport system.


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